Friday, October 6, 2017

dear stranger

Dear Stranger on the Subway,

When I offered you my seat, it was because I could see that although you're probably my age--maybe even younger--you weren't as steady on your feet. I don't mind standing. You were holding a cumbersome bag. I had a knapsack I could easily carry on my back. I had my earbuds in and was listening to a New Yorker fiction podcast. I like these podcasts because in addition to hearing an author read a story by another author, the fiction editor and author discuss the short story. These can be downloaded free from i-Tunes.

Whether I stood or sat while travelling a few subway stops didn't matter to me in the least. Or as we said as kids in southern Ontario where I grew up, it "didn't care". I was reminded of that expression the other day when talking to my brother on the phone. I didn't even think that offering you my seat was a particular expression of kindness on my part. I simply did it. Here, look: have my seat, sit down. No more than that. A smile, a nod, you sit, you nod, you smile, life continues. No one looking to get brownie points from the sky nor to get an award for civic behaviour. We live in the city and are taking public transit together. That's all.

So listen, I did not like that you answered my simple, almost unthinking gesture with the card you thrust at me before getting off the subway. You Need to be Saved! You Cannot Save Yourself! Jesus Can Save You! Trust Jesus Now! With accompanying small print to explain why my "work of righteousness" wasn't enough. I would still "perish" because although I "doeth good", I also "sinneth" and "must repent".

What can I say?

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